The term ambivalence refers to the concept of uncertainty or fluctuation, especially when caused by inability to make a choice or by the simultaneous desire to say or do two opposite or conflicting things. This state of ambivalence manifests itself throughout people’s everyday lives. The choices and decisions one makes, whether it be small or large, causes a sense of uncertainty within him/her. Through this uncertainty, a feeling of tension forms with one’s sense of self. The tension is derived from the imminent choice one must conclude with.
People may expect to make an ideal choice when one doesn’t actually exist. …the problem with making a choice for one option is that you have to give up every other possibility — that is, you have to limit yourself to the one thing you’ve chosen and renounce all the others. (Burgo) There seems to be two things at the root of ambivalence—the choice and the fear of the choice. The quote stated above by Dr. Joseph Burgo elucidates that the challenge of ambivalence is a matter of choice (people don’t want to actually have to choose).
Humans, by nature, are selfish beings who crave and desire all the values they are able to attain. In the event that one must choose between two ve’ry appealing options, that person is flooding with ambivalence. The person is so torn because he/she desires both options but sees that it is impossible to do so. Both choices are appealing but a decision must be made. Within the aspect of choice, there is always the case of fear within one making the decision. We may be afraid of loss or regret if we choose “badly”, and/or we may fear the savagery of our own conscience if we make a “mistake”.
(Burgo) A person becomes afraid of making a choice, especially if making a decision can negatively impact them. He/she also becomes fearful of losing the other option when choosing the other due to the fact that in most cases, once a decision is made it is finally—there is no going back. There is also the aspect that one’s choices can affect another person or the opinion of that person making the choice. If one choices something, he/she may very well lose someone who does not agree with that choice. Ambivalence reflects an intense fear of the consequences involved in choosing.
One example that can demonstrate these aspects of ambivalence is pregnancy—trying to choose between life and abortion. On one end, a woman has the option of keeping the baby, raising it, caring for and loving it, watching it grow old while ruining her reputation or have a living reminder of the father (if the father is not in the picture or is a rapist). At the other end, she can kill the unborn fetus and kill any chance of that fetus having a life, but the woman can retain her life not have to take on the responsibility of caring for a child.
The two choices she has both contain “pros” and “cons. ” The woman might become afraid of the choice she must make because if she chooses life, she will have to have the responsibility of taking care of a living being and people will judge her; she also might fear she does not possess the resources to help maintain the life of the baby (money for food, diapers, bottles, etc. ). If the woman were to choose abortion, she might be fearful because she will being killing something human, something that is a part of her, something that is alive.
She could be consumed in guilt because she might consider herself selfish and a murderer. The woman would also become afraid that she might lose some people who are important to her because of the people’s opinions; she will lose people either way. The woman has become ambivalent on this subject and does not want to choose; not because she wants both, but because she doesn’t want the consequence of the choices she makes. Meyer 3 Another example that could elucidate this notion of ambivalence is the common subject of love.
Often times, women and men become ambivalent when the event of loving two people arises. For instance, a woman desires two men that are both appealing to her. It can be seen here that the woman does not wish to really choose between them, she wants them both. However, she realizes that this desire to possess both is unattainable. Further analyzing this situation, one could argue that the woman cannot truly love the first man because if she did, why did she fall for the second?
Taking this concept into mind, one might say that the ambivalence does not lie with the woman not being able to choose between the men but with the woman not being able to choose what she likes most in the men’s characteristics. Bringing in the fear of losing one of the men she loves, her ambivalence has escalated. Also, the fact of the matter is, the woman always want perfect relationships “She couldn’t tolerate an authentic (and therefore imperfect) relationship with an actual man but wanted a perfect bond without frustration, conflict or disappointment” (Burgo).
Ambivalence is a result of Human’s desire for a plethora of things. The choice one must make when faced with two options creates in them a state of tension. People do not want to have to choose— they want all the choices or none of the choice. However, they realize that a choice must be made. When subject to a choice that might negatively impact he/she, a sense of fear is apparent. The person becomes afraid of losing the option once making his or her decision as most decisions are permanent. Also, one might become fearful of losing someone who does not approve of the choice the person has made.